My knitting looks like a little piece of pink crap on two sticks. I saw signs for the new arts and crafts store on the way back from a pool party today and remembered this one summer in Maine. I must have been only 10 or 11. We stayed in a place near the beach and woods. My father got L.L. Bean boots. Vinnie, who was probably six at the time, and I met two brothers and played tennis. We went on nature walks. There are pictures. My hair was constantly messy. The point is that I knitted on this trip. My mother taught me and for some reason I was good at it - or decent, at least, for a ten year old. I remember having a very mature sense of relaxation that came from the tedious task. I had minty green yarn and since nothing but a scarf was within my skill range, that is what I was making. It occupied some of my time between climbing on the rocks or swimming in the ice-cold pool. I never forgot how relaxing it was, or, considering how un-crafty I have always considered myself, that I could even do it. When friends tell me about their knitting projects I reply, "I knitted once. I loved it." The minty green tiny scarf the only proof of that claim. And proof only in memory. No clue where that thing went.
But today passing by the crafts store, I went wild and turned into the parking lot. Once inside it was easy to find the knitting section. Women of all ages were milling about. Yarn, in all its various colors and textures and weights is an appealing product, I must admit. While other times I would have passed by, or even made fun of these women so excited about their potential knitting prospects, today I jumped right in. I found a book first. "I Can't Believe I'm Knitting," it is called. That's right. I can't believe I am in the knitting section of a crafts store with all these crafty ladies. After reading page one of "I Can't..." and discovering I'd need two knitting needles and some yarn I got to work. I found needles that fit the qualifications and "worsted weight" yarn in adorable pink. This color, I thought wisely, will cheer me up when I am having my initial difficulties in my new favorite hobby.
I couldn't wait.
The situtation provided several challenges, however, all of which had considered at the outset of my spontaneous purchase. I hate reading and following directions. I'm more of a do-it-my-own-way type. This isn't something to be proud of. Furthermore, my patience is not fantastic. My attention span can wane. I get distracted easily. But I kept thinking back to that summer in Maine, just knowing my fingers would remember the knitting process and I'd return to that serene state of mind. I'd have a scarf finished by nightfall.
Instead, it took me roughly an hour to realize how to "cast on." It took a painful gathering of concentration (turn off the radio, computer and TV - do not look anywhere but the pink string) to get a slip knot together. And learning through diagrams of fingers and yarn is enough to invoke a minor to high shift in blood pressure. At first I was laughing. Mina was sitting in my lap and Cecilia had her head on my knee. And I laughed "oh haha I knew I wasn't crafty," but the laughter turned sour after several tries and no link to my ten year old self. "WHAT THE HELL," I demanded of the book. I took a break. I made banana bread, cooking another hobby I am just breaking into.
Once I returned to the needles, calmed down, and again steadied my concentration, I got it - sort of. My little stitches are sometimes tight, sometimes loose and sometimes very horrendous looking. The greatest part was that I did remember. The feeling felt, if not natural, familiar. And it's nice to be productive. I've been watching the Olympics constantly lately. It's nice to have a project of my own, rather than gasp at the tremendous athletic talent of others.
Not that my knitting is tremendous, athletic, or a talent. But it is something I learned to do by myself - well, for the second time. I'm proud of my little pink rows. They are very crooked. Someone is going to get a lovely scarf this winter.